4G suspension: High Court gives Govt 10 days to report on lack of ‘efficient internet’

Srinagar: The High Court Friday asked the J&K government to file within 10 days a report regarding “efficient” internet facility in J&K and Ladakh.

While hearing the Public Interest Litigations through video conferencing, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Geeta Mittal and Rajesh Oswal passed a slew of directions regarding the measures to be taken by the Government in the battle against the COVID-19 disease and other ancillary matters

Regarding lack of “efficient” internet facility in J&K and Ladakh, the Court directed the Secretary, Home Department of J&K and Ladakh to file the report by April 27, the next date of hearing.

Interestingly, April 27 is also the data till which the latest extension of ban on high-speed mobile internet is valid.

On Wednesday, the government yet again extended the ban periodically, a trend that has been going on for months now even as the actual 4G service remains off for consecutive 254 days since August 5 last year.

That day Government of India abrogated Article 370 and divided the erstwhile state of J&K into two Union Territories.

The High Court directions comes at a time when at least two petitions demanding restoration of 4G internet have been filed in the Supreme Court.

In the latest extension order, the government has claimed that the ban “did not hinder” COVID-19 control measures.

Principal Secretary to the government Shaleen Kabra, in the order passed late Wednesday evening, said “taking note of misuse of social media applications in terror activities as also in adversely impacting public order, it is apparent that there is need for continuation of the speed restrictions on mobile internet services.”

The order said people were “misusing” social media applications for “circulation of photographs” of militants “and for mobilizing crowds.”

“…one such incident being when more than 500 villagers gathered to attend funeral of a terrorist, defying the lockdown and throwing social-distancing norms to the wind,” it said referring to a recent gathering of people during a militant’s funeral in Sopore on April 8.

Apparently referring to the recent encounter in Keran sector, the order also claimed that Pakistan based militant organisations were “leaving no stone unturned to exploit the present situation as seen by recent infiltration attempts which also caused security forces’ casualties.”

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A journalist by chance with over five years of experience in reporting, editing, and bucketing local, national and international content for my current organization. I have covered education, health, politics, and human rights. I like working for a daily, though I occasionally try my pen in long-form to connect personal narratives with history.

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